China to expand real-name registration for Twitter-like microblogs

China is already conducting trials of the real-name system in five cities

China plans to require users of the country's Twitter-like microblogs to register with their real identities, and has already begun trials of the system in five cities, according to a Chinese official.

The real-name registration marks the latest attempt by Chinese authorities to tighten control over the country's social networking sites, which have also become forums for people to express opinions critical of the government. The country's microblogging sites have about 250 million users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

China supports microblogs, said Wang Chen, the head of China's State Council Information Office, during a Wednesday media briefing. "Microblogs, on the one hand, can reflect the public's sentiment," he said. "They can also create accountability, and promote the society's development."

But China also wants to ensure the Internet's "healthy development", Wang said. Although microblogs can reflect the people's will, they can also be used to spread harmful and irrational opinions and information. He pointed to pornography and the fabrication of rumors as major problems.

The real-name microblog registration began as trials in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen from late last year. Once the pilot programs are completed, they will then be expanded to other parts of the country, Wang said. He did not give a firm date, or state specifically where the real-name registration will be expanded to.

The new regulations could scare China's Internet users from posting comments on microblogs, according to analysts. Chinese authorities have gone as far to detain microblog users accused of fabricating online rumors.

Beijing's city government announced last month it would also require users of microblogs to register with their real names. The text of the regulations states that users cannot post on topics that will damage China's national honor or lead to illegal gatherings that will disturb civil order.

"I think initially, some users will feel more cautious about what they post, or feel less inclined to post unless it is a topic they feel very strongly about," said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. "But over time, it will become normal and users will be less sensitive to it."

Chinese officials have yet to state how the new real-name requirements will be implemented. "In other real-name systems, it has often been discovered that it was very difficult to implement, or users found ways to circumvent them," Natkin said.

Wang said the regulation will first be enforced on new users of microblogs, and then extended to existing users. Users will still have the choice of selecting their own screen names to be displayed on their accounts.

China already censors the Internet for anti-government content, and has blocked foreign websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A spokesman for Sina, a Chinese company operating one of the country's largest Twitter-like microblogging sites, declined to comment on the plans to enforce real-name registration.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?